November 23, 2008

Lost Credibility

James Fallows writes about A fascinating document about the internet and "public opinion" in China which shows how much credibility and lose of face America has suffered since 2003. Roland Soong, a Chinese blogger, has been looking at how the internet in China has shaped public opinion and he noted one major change in the way the process of information flow works today.

You will note the role of western media has been eliminated from the process model... If once upon a time western media coverage, which affects the opinion of western politicians and citizens, mattered to the Chinese people, this is no longer the case.

In the political realm, the Chinese people no longer have to believe in the rhetoric of freedom, liberty, democracy, sovereignty and human rights. The war in Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prison, the Guantanamo camp, hurricane Katrina and other misconduct took care of all that. Why would the Chinese people be interested in what American president George W. Bush have to preach to them about freedom, liberty, democracy, sovereignty and human rights? When the western media invoke those terms, the reaction from the Chinese people is: "Look within yourselves and fix your own problems first!"

In the economic realm, the financial tsunami of 2008 took care of any credibility in the Washington consensus. In its place was an as-yet-undefined Beijing consensus which has less specifics than the general idea of self-determination. Why would the Chinese people be interested in what Alan Greenspan and Henry Paulson have to tell them about how to run their economy when they have failure on their hands?

The United States has a great deal of work to do to regain some of the credibility it once had. If we can focus on solving problems honestly and pragmatically, perhaps we will once more earn the right to be considered with some respect and as a fair partner in helping solve the real problems our world faces.

Posted by Mary at November 23, 2008 10:29 AM | International | Technorati links |